Thick as Blood, Frail as Bone

Chapter 1

Oddities and Powerful Attraction

Out on a gas station on a lonely dusty highway several miles into the desert around Los Angeles, California a 2009 Road King Classic sits at a pump filling its tank with gas. The man is 5’11” and well toned with a military air about him. This was the only way station for miles and as such a rugged looking jeep pulled up. It looked as if it might be some kind of opal white under the think coating of road dust that coated everything out here in the desert. On the drivers side door the words, “If you have to ask, you don’t want to know.” written in a fine script. The woman in the drivers seat had wavy hair a mix of red and brown with hints of gold and eyes the strange color of citrine. Wearing a black tank top and faded Levis with a pair of dark red Double H cowboy boots, not fancy boots for city folk, but work boots. She got out of the jeep and stood 5’10” tall with a thin but muscular frame.

The man looked over the jeep and commented, “Nice ride”, with a cocky grin. She was swearing about good help being hard to find and saw no one to ask for gas, just started to pump her own gas. There was a grace about her, fluid and uncommon even in the act of pumping gas she seemed to move like fluid. A glance at the bike and rider showed she noted their existence, considered, and figured there was no sense in being rude since her problems were not the fault of this dude, “Thanks, freaking dust here makes it hard to keep clean but it does the job. Your ride ain’t to shabby either.” Her voice was well modulated, clear but soft and came along with a polite smile. Yeah, she could be civilized, she had a few things to work out but once she got her tank filled there were a few folks that needed yelling at.

His mind reached out to hers, the touch invisible to most anyone who he’d ever encountered to sense her surface thoughts. It was rare for anyone to be able to sense the touch and he was particularly skilled in the art of psionics anyway making it that much more difficult. He didn’t need to do this but he was bored and personal boundaries… Well, any boundaries didn’t really concern him at all. Her mind seemed to be an odd, as she must be, much like a beehive and compartmentalized like one. Different areas holding different memories. She was far older than one would imagine and develing in he got the sense that her life span was something incredible. So much so that he couldn’t think it was accurate, what he was sensing. He had the distinct impression that she was alive from a time shortly before Christ was born. Since that couldn’t be right he passed it over and found a bird image floating through her mind, not a thought exactly but like an impression, a shadow, or something like that coming out of the recesses of her odd mind, like a fire bird was deep inside there. This, of course, piqued his interest.

Surface thoughts of bemusement flitted around and in the voice of her mind responded to his prodding with, Nosey, aintchya? and a quiet laugh. Good for him she wasn’t offended. She understood the idea that one used what one had available. This made him quirk a grin, a nice and big grin, wide from ear to ear it seemed. Walking over with the stance, presence, and walk of a soldier he extended his hand and cracked a joke, “Yeah, my black vans and such turn dirt brown really quickly. It is always frustrating.” She looked at him with a tiled head, something like a beast might do if questioning something or trying to comprehend a fact or two. She decided to accept the hand offered, giving it a firm squeeze. There was a controlled strength in the hand, a feminine strength that hinted at other things. It was a slim hand but not overly soft, a but rough but not so much. “Kylaria McNalley”, was the short answer, offering an introduction. “Gonna change this freaking color one day. Dunno how I let that idiot artist talk me into this crap!”

He spooled out his mind a bit more, letting her feel a bit of the power, like seeing the outline of an enormous spotlight behind a curtain rather than the light bulb one expected, though the radiant light wasn’t beaming at her it was there. He didn’t answer, however. Kylaria’s mild tone was tentative and acknowledged what was seen. So, he had a mind of power. She could manage well enough with a bid of mind speech if needed but that was not her strong gift, not really. She decided the male seemed to have an understanding of oddities. She permitted him to see a bit more, a sort of you showed me yours so I will show you mine kind of idea and near the image of a firebird was another shape, a wolf. It was the wolf of a were-creature, which he recognized. It was larger, and the citrine eyes far too intelligent to be a normal animal, the image of the wolf and that of the firebird merged into one and became a woman.

He shook her hand, glad the lady had used the card to pay for gas, he hadn’t expected anyone be there and didn’t want someone to see the young woman of perhaps 17 years who was still mesmerized on her knees inside, staring off into space. While he thought of this Kylaria wondered if he felt the electric friction of her touch some sensitives did and some did not. She was told it was not a painful thing but just an oddity, like her. He did feel it, actually. This prompted him to actually introduce himself, “Cyclops”, was all he said by way of introduction. He knew that if she was a native (or a were-creature especially) she would know the name as associated with black helicopters, abductions in the middle of the night, and places in the desert that one just did not go. All of these things were supposed to be just stories for most. As much of a reputation as he and his people had, they were seldom ever actually seen.

“Name rings a bell. Kind of like the bogeyman thing that parents threaten their kids with. Though some around here know that it ain’t the bogeyman.” she offered a mild chuckle with her words as she released his hand and returned the gas pump to its place.

Cyclops just winks in response, “Oh, I’m not that bad. But children need fear so if I can fill that void, why not?” He let her mind see him a bit more, a dark presence deep within, chained up and tightly controlled. Hateful, violent, vengeful. Like a deep blood red light to what seemed a distinctly bluish light surrounding it. Both merged into a share like a dirty flash.

Her fine brow arched, she did not expect humor and enjoyed it, “We all enjoy a few tales now and again by the fire. And I find your observation about fear to be refreshing. Most idiots around here do not realize fear can keep you alive. I knew far too many brave idiots who are now dead.”

Giving her a sagely nod, having intimate knowledge with bravery killing people it shouldn’t, “Besides bogeymen come out of closets, we don’t.” he gave a kind of twisted smile but there was a hint of seriousness. Like someone saying a joke about locking up little children with a tone that said they really did. Her mind touched on what he allowed her to see. She was not surprised really. The amount of power she could sense was formidable but the mixture was not so surprising. A balance of good and bad was needed to live. Her mind lightly touched what was offered as if to say, tag, you’re it. While not frivolous she had a fun side as well as her own darkness and wondered if he would follow her mind to see where it might reach. In return, he let her see his demon, an actual demon from the upper layers of hell wrapped in mental chains writing and snarling. It was also tangled and inseparable from him as it winds through his

Chapter 2

More than a Contract

“At least you get it Cyclops. It was idiot workers that have me in a rather odd spot right now. Folks thinking they are indestructible and they ain’t. Gotta head to the godforsaken town and find me some workers that are not idiots. Probably impossible around here.”

“I can find you some. It isn’t cheap.”

Kylaria was not afraid of fire as she was, in part, fire too. A wolf with a phoenix spirit trapped inside was not a demon but it was an ancient spirit that had seen much. It was a spirit that would feed knowledge to the woman, warning her to read lightly lest his beast become free from its chains. She understood what it was like to play host to something big, bad, and nasty. The tone of her thoughts communicated more than enough understanding for Cyclops. He could see glimpses of her mind, years flashed by, something about a vampire in 300 A.D. changing her life and echo’s of such a long story. Then, she was talking, “I ain’t as rich as God but I can pay for them, if they ain’t a bunch of idiots.” She leaned up against the truck, not a sensual pose but a comfortable one. She removed the cowboy hat and the long thick braid of multihued hair came out to rest along side her left hip.

He put the nozzle back after his bike was done filling up. It had actually been done for a while, but she had distracted him and he hadn’t noticed until now, “There are strings.” he said, pausing for a moment but continuing before she could object to the strings, “How long do you need people for?” He let the mind contact fade away with a mental nod.

“I can deal with all kinds of crap but stupid idiots just make me crazy. Need someone that can drive a cattle rig. A few hands that can properly act as muscle if needed and wranglers when I don’t need the muscle.” Her answer was mixed in with her mind giving him the promise of perhaps telling tales, histories, and such. Maybe hoping for another being that could understand and might have tales of their own. It was a hard thing to keep shit bottled up inside when most did not understand jack about what was really out there, “Maybe a few days a week for the drivers. The ranch hands could be daily if it works out. Pay would be good if they are not morons. Housing is on the property if they need a place to crash. Don’t care what they do on off hours as long as they don’t involve me with their stuff. I ain’t easy to work with but I am honest and fair and don’t screw around with people’s heads. Fair ’nuff?”

Kylaria let her mind stay loosely connected to his since it was not every day that one found someone that hosts another entity. She tended to not just delve into folks’ heads without an invite and while not a passive person; she had her own rules when it came to spying. She’d probably just hang out for a bit, perhaps following his mind should it take her someplace. The darkness of him was a bit scary, but he seemed to have a grasp on the beast inside him. His answer to her was simple, and business like with a cocky edge, “Yeah, but, counter offer.” He paused for a moment before he continued, “You get the help, and everyone of them can handle more trouble than is likely –”

Kylaria cut him off to prompt him, “And?”

“But on occasion, I might ask you to put someone up in the dorm or the bar, until I call. Costs to you would be paid but, no question. No questions, we never met, I don’t exist. OH, and you’re rid of the immigration authorities too.” He was trying to make her know, explicitly, that this was the best deal she was ever going to hear.

She gave it some thought. She really did not need any more trouble and it looked like the male could keep any trouble at arms length for her, “Don’t ask, don’t tell eh? I think we are clear. I got room if you need folk to crash. You got a deal then. I can have papers drawn up but something says you don’t really want any trails? And, to keep it simple, pay in cash at the end of the week? Finders fee for ya if they last 30 days. Cash is better for ya.” She was feeling pretty good about now, avoided crappy town and employment agencies and all the political bull-crap that she despised. Living sometimes was just too complicated these days. Everyone wanted a piece of this or that. Nothing was simple and forthright at all. Too many friggin’ people to go through. This was nice and simple, almost too simple. It created a niggle of concern in her head. Yeah, sometime she will probably pay for this easy way out but hopefully not today.

He couldn’t help but grin at her, he liked the way she thought, “Follow me, we’ll get you setup.” Following his words with a swift kick to the Harley and his tire screeched and spun before he jolted out of the gas station at high speed, leaving the smell of burning rubber and the sounds of Folsom Prison Blues blasting from the speakers, a long trail of dust in his wake. His mind sent to hers Keep up Phoenix, don’t want to leave you behind. Kylaria’s response was to laugh a bit and hop easily into her jeep. The 8 cylinder beast could keep up easily enough, laughter was the first thing from her mind in response but next came the words, Easy enough to find you Demon Man. Her Bose system now blasting “Sweet Home Alabama” as she raced to catch up with him.

Cyclops gave her enough time before closing in on her and then he went off road. One wouldn’t think the bike would do it well but then it was a Harley. The engine roared as he squealed at a nearly impossibly sharp angle into the rocky desert, dodging rocks, shrubs, cactuses, and anything else in his way. Keeping his mind reached out for hers so even if she fell behind she would know what direction to go.

She was glad for the mind connection. The jeep was good for off road but this was not fun. She negotiated the obstacles in her way, narrowly missing a giant sequoia. Swearing aloud and through the link to his mind, she decided that this male was probably a bit crazy and it was not a bad thing. He continued to lead her on the merry chase through the desert well into the area that people didn’t go. Lots of stories in why but again, just stories right? Finally he was waiting by an open gate at the entrance to a cave.

Trying to catch up she was being bounce around like a ball despite the seatbelt but she did her best to keep up. The jeep was not coated in road dust now but looks more yellow brown than anything else with a full on coating of the desert floor all over it. Coming to a stop she sighed by mentally and physically, opening the door to slide out of the vehicle, “Hey man where you learn to drive that freakin’ thing? At the bumper card ride at an amusement park, are you a sadist?” The comment was followed by a bit of a laugh and her looking around a bit.

“Some say yes and some would say no. I learned to drive it dodging a vampire running after my fiancée and I – may she rest in peace.” He wasn’t entirely sure why he just told her that, he never told anyone that just in passing like that. Perhaps this was a warning sign that this wasn’t a great idea? She was dangerous if she could get him to let something slip like that just from being around her. He had too many secrets.

She lowered her eyes in a moment of respect for the dead, “Your loss is noted, and you might say I had a run in with the blood suckers myself for a time. Nasty business and hope you gave the ones responsible for your loss a final death?”

He motioned for her to follow; the cave had old military style lightly attached to the rock of the cave ceiling. It was dark, cool, and well lit enough to know what one was going but not quite enough to dispel the feeling of dread that might come from not being able to see the back.

Chapter 3

Paws in Play

Kylaria followed along, her eyes glowing a bit to adjust to the light as needed. The coolness was welcomed in the desert, “You’re place, Cyclops?” She maintained a light mental contact with his mind, not prying where he would not allow her to go. Knowing what it was like to have someone nosing around and probing in her mind she still had a few scruples left after all. After a pause she added, “We will have to share that story one of these days. Something tells me we both have a few small thing sin common here and there.”

“Yes,” Cyclops nodded and led her into the depths of the cave. After only a few minutes walk from the entrance there was an elevator. This entrance was seldom used and the elevator looked out of service. Unless you put a key card in, it wouldn’t move at all giving the impression of a seized up motor. Kylaria’s mind was flooded with images of a girl, maybe 20 or so… Hot passion, her eyes, shatters of blood, more heated passion, and her eyes only but glowing blood red. All of those images flashed through his mind and thus were shown to her with hints of deeper and more profound emotions as well.

She raised a brow in curiosity at the elevator, “Not easy to keep something like this working out here. Freaking desert crud gets into everything and mucks up the works.”

Sliding a key card the elevator began to move like it was new, the door slid open without a squeak and shudder, stepping in with Kylaria the door slid shut and began to move in a smooth downward direction. “It is, I have to have people down to clean it twice a week, every day if we get a sand storm out here.” While he spoke, she was keeping her mind locked with the images she saw, being a bit of a hard ass herself but those that were damaged by the vampires touch always touched her a bit. The tone of her mental contact was laced with a bit of compassion along with her reaction of concern and curiosity. Oh she would not feel sorry for him but she understood his loss at a certain level. The images she held on to and followed lead to an image of the young girl of around 20 years. She was a vampire and that was clear but something about it said she wasn’t his fiancée that he had spoken of earlier. The image came clearer into focus, something about her was child-like but it was hard to place exactly what, the sexuality mixed with the child-like air and formed a very strange picture indeed. Under it all in a deep undertow threatening to bring the thoughts down into a sea of emotion of love that went along with it. Finally the name of Spook floated through the thoughts clear as a bell as if he’d said it out loud.

She gave a mental nod to him and her voice mirrored the understanding she felt, “Yeah, I hear ya. Lost my whole family to them. Lost metal too for a while.”

The elevator continued to descend; he looked at her, “What you are about to see does not exist, are we clear?” There was a clear mobster style of serious threat in his words, filled with the threat of violence coiled behind them.

“See what?” came the reply with a chuckle at the old joke.

Quirking a smile he said, “I like how you think.”

“Hey, everyone has their secrets and yours ain’t mine to tell. What I see says with me alone. Figure you’d be the same.”

She was right, he was. Standing up straight as the elevator stops and the doors open again to reveal every bit what an underground military base was supposed to look like. A guard saluted him saying, “Admiral on deck.” And everyone stood at attention and saluted until he returned it and said, “As you were.” The space was a large one, kind of like a large office floor from a high-rise with cubicles to one side and the wall was lined with doors apparently to more offices or perhaps corridors. Florescent lights and vents in the ceiling. The entire scene didn’t look particularly odd except that everyone in sight was wearing military fatigues that labeled him or her in the United States Navy. Various ranks but everyone that could be seen was an officer of some kind, if only an Ensign in some cases milling about and making phone calls, computers on desks, manila files in hands, apparently today was business as usual today.

She glanced around and leaned against a wall for the time being staying unobtrusive as she silently observed wondering what the heck kind of trouble she found herself in now. After a moment she drawled out, “Hey Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”

The scent in the air began to reveal as she breathed it in, half of these people in here were were-creatures of some kind, though the man approaching was not. The man approaching had captain’s bars apparently with something to say but the Admiral preempted his words with a hand saying, “Don’t worry Langly, it’s good.” This new man, Langly, looked upset but held his tongue and Admiral Cyclops led her into his office about a dozen doors down along the wall. Each door had either a window with the blinds down or was between two windows but all the doors were fitted with a numeric keypad. The keypad also had a card reader on the side of it. Tapping a code into one of the office doors and sliding a key card from his pocket, the door unlocked audibly. He opens the door and lets her into the room, Langly followed as well, stiff but respectful. Cyclops just said, “Coffee?” to them both. Langly shook his head, standing in a picturesque at-ease stance, he wasn’t quite as tall as Cyclops was, and was rigidly military, whether because he always was or because it was how he kept his mouth from commenting on what he thought. Dark hair, blue eyes, something was different about him, however, there was understanding in those eyes and a unique calm.

The office was larger than one might expect, a shelf of books in the corner by the door, no windows other than the one, which would give a look at the rest of the office floor outside if the blinds were drawn up. A desk next to the bookshelves, a love seat on the wall just by the door, faces the bookshelf. Two rather comfortable looking chairs directly across from the desk, all the furniture was leather or a dark mahogany wood. The nametag in front of the desk blotter said Adm. Lance Thomas. Kylaria just said, “Yeah, black thanks.” Giving Langly a look and a wink as her golden eyes flashed, “Yep, it’s fine.”

That just made Langly more agitated, though he barely showed it. The only real signal that he was agitated was that his frame tightened. Admiral Lance “Cyclops” Thomas poured some black coffee into a mug, glancing at Langly and shaking his head knowing the man wouldn’t take any right now he just poured some for himself passing the first mug to Kylaria and sitting behind the desk, “How many do you need for each position?” pulling out a yellow legal pad and grabbing a pen from a bland styled cup.

“Like the drivers to be in pairs, so no one falls asleep at the wheel. Rigs are costly, the gotta change off every 8 hours and keep logs in case they are stopped. Don’t need no crap from any law folk.” She responded sipping her coffee, which tasted about, as one would expect it to. Not bad but also not great. Something you’d drink just for the boost and not for the taste.

“Oh, you don’t have to worry about that. Now… Here is the important part. Anything not legit?” Lance asked in a casual business voice, “Smuggling, contraband, illegal anything? Not a deal breaker but I need to know.”

“Nope, nothing at this time. If that changed, I would give you a heads up. I am in livestock. Cattle, sheep, goats, buffalo, pig. Exotic meats by request. I am a rancher by trade but there is more.” She seemed hesitant to make the last statement. All this while Lance is taking notes on his yellow pad and Langly stands at east in the corner by the door looking generally unhappy.

Lance looked up, “More?”

Looking a bit reluctant for just a moment longer, she explained, “There is somethin’ not right at the ranch. It is hard to explain. Tried callin’ the cops but they think I am nuts but somethin’ ain’t right! Look, ya already have a damn good idea of what I am but, well, something stings. Literally, stinks. As in rotten meat kind of stink.” Lance gives her a grin, but before he can say anything she goes on, “I got folks quitting on me left and right. Then the drivers are cracking up my damn rigs and it’s costing me some serious cash.”

“How bad do you want it taken care of?” he asks giving her a serious look that is a hair mischievous. It unsettled most people.

She’s still going on about what, “I think you already know, Admiral is it?” she wasn’t entirely sure what to call him now. Cyclops was an odd enough name but she would go with it. There were people who were named Starburst or Blade in this world. She didn’t realize it was some kind of call sign perhaps? “I have already made deals with the devil. What is one more eh?”

“Alright, call.” He pushed the phone on his desk to her while he made more notes on the paper in front of him. Folding it up he handed it to Langly and said, “Lets get the men ready to go, full detail, defense, research, the whole shebang.” Langly frowned at him but just said, “Yes Sir”; turning on his heel he left the room while Kylaria gave him another look, not aggressive but one that reflected mild curiosity. Lance looked back at Kylaria after Langly left, “Clear everyone out. Everyone.”

“I’m thinking you want me to stay?”

“Yes, you’re with me. But the ranch needs to be cleared out.”

She picked up the phone saying, “Ok, let me make a few calls.” Knowing her cell wouldn’t work as deep underground as they were. Hell, that was probably one of the points to being that far underground. As she went to dial, Lance added the question, “You’re not afraid of heights are you?” She didn’t answer but dialed her hot-line number instead to call the housekeeper. Putting the phone to her ear she said, “Hey, Hildegarde. Code black, yeah, that’s right. Follow the evac plan. Anyone left including the animals, move ‘em where I told ya. Yeah, you can still get in. Will tell ya when it’s safe. Yeah, yeah, getting this shit fixed finally. No prob. Yeah, lamb for dinner is good but ya maybe cooking for an army.” She hung up the phone.

“I like how you work.” He smiled at her.

Offering him a genuine smile, “I like heights actually Admiral, maybe too much.” She was actually very beautiful when she smiled though she didn’t get to do much of that anymore. “I do what needs to be done; K, I, S, S. Means Keep It Simple Sweetheart. Words to live by.” As people moved around outside the office, the scent of the were-creatures outside Lance’s office caused her to sniff a bit and grin.

He decided it was time to get things moving and stood up, opening the door he stood in the door and said in a loud, commanding voice, “Code 114271, Bravo, Delta, Gamma, and Zeta teams in play. Full decon protocol.” Then after a moment, even though people were already moving he shouted loudly, “Move!” At that, everyone moved even faster, spurring into gear as if someone had put a hot branding iron to his or her ass. Looking at her Lance just said, “Kiss eh? I like it.” He gave a good-natured laugh that cracked the exterior slightly – something he did about as often as she smiled.

Chapter 4

Back at the Ranch

Kylaria would often resort to sarcasm humor to get through being scared shitless, “Those of us who are about to die, salute you.” She laughed along with Lance wondering if her ranch was going to still be standing. A man came through the open door, from his scent he was a were-rat, “Chopper is ready for you, Sir”, offering a hand to Kylaria. She accepted the hand and offered a lance with a small grin, to which he gave a slight bit of a come-on type of wink.

Everything else happened in a rush, from the office with resource, Kylaria and Lance were soon inside a small helicopter on the tarmac. The smell of fuel and exhaust filled the air along with the sound of the choppers spinning up their engines and preparing to lift off. Several Blackhawks, a few Apache gunships, and a couple large cargo hauler lifted off nearly in unison and tipped forward heading and began to speed up rapidly, heading for Kylaria’s ranch. In the command chopper with Lance, Kylaria, the pilot, and co-pilot was the were-rat. Kylaria caught him looking at her and just shook her head, a rat and a wolf was not a healthy mixture, no matter how trained the were-rat was. Settled in, she waited for the chopper to arrive at her ranch.

The ranch itself was Circle KM, consisted of about 200 acres of land. Most of it was taken up by corals and would normally house assorted livestock. A variety of well kept barns, watering holes, a few silos for feed, and its own generator. A large grey shingle style compound was the main house along with several smaller out-buildings that would be for workers and guests as needed. The ranch even managed a few greenhouses that would grow food for the ranch to keep itself as self-sufficient as possible.

Within a few minutes of the ranch coming into view the choppers were landing and troops were pouring out of the Blackhawks and began to set up a perimeter to decontaminate the property. The Shamans came out after the troops. It was a well oiled machine, as every unloaded it was impossible to not notice the stench like someone had dropped a load of rotting meat to finish decomposing. The smell of decay and putrefaction was impossible to ignore. Many of those who unloaded showed visible signs of having to hold back vomiting - especially the were-creatures whose sense of smell was more keen than normal.

Everyone was soon put on alert, as a cactus or shrub would get sucked down into the ground. Soon, however, it got even stranger when some of the vanished plants would re-appear as a stinking pile of black tar and goo. Seeing this Kylaria looked to Lance, “See? That is the crap that has been happening for fucking months. Man, everyone thinks I am nuts. That is not normal, natural, or even right. It was a giant sequoia and now it is a puddle of crud!” As another cactus repeated this process she just yelled a frustrated, “Fuck!” Soon the situation got even worse, a smaller of the out-buildings collapsed suddenly and got sucked into the ground. All that came back up was the hardware, nails and other metal bits flying every which way, “I just rebuilt that!” she yelled, banging her head against the glass of the chopper door, “See? See that?!” She was yelling now.

Lance threw open the door and climbed out, the smell almost knocking him on his ass. Turning to the ranking Shaman who was approaching to get orders, Lance just barked, “Find it. ASAP!” With that order, the operation began in earnest. Normal stuff like ground penetrating radar and other technological gear to investigate something was unpacked and set up to be used. Kylaria got Lance’s attention when she saw a light trembling in the ground saying to him, “Sweet Gaia not again!” as she pointed toward the anomaly. The shamans fanned out using crystals, wands, and other magical implements along side the tech, scouring the ground starting at the center and moving outward. Looking toward her Lance just said, “What?” before he directed his attention to where she was pointing. Any further comment was interrupted by all the corals getting sucked into the ground, “What is going on?” Kylaria exclaimed, absolutely bewildered and a bit scared, “Is it farming in hell or something?” She could cover a lot with a sarcastic sense of humor but this was just too bizarre even for her. “What is it? If they want a beef order let them freaking ask me!”

The men were nervous, guns up, but nothing to point them at. The ground continued to tremble very slightly and a crack began to open up slowly steam and a vile green smoke rising out of it. Lance didn’t take even a few moments making a hand signal to match his order into the radio, “Helo’s up, weapons hot.” With that, the choppers lifted off the ground, the ones that were unarmed began to pull back to a safe distance while the gunships began to take up strategic positions around the ranch. There was no visible way to tell, but the pilots unlocked the weapons and were ready to fire. Kylaria started to pray, this was escillating extremely fast, and where one of the corals was, a hot geyser of water erupted without any warning, “Fuck! This place really is cursed!” was all she could stay between prayers.

Lance drew his rapier his skin changing and covering in a thick black ooze that solidifies in less than a second looking like hard black leather covering him head to toe, eyes of the armor glowing softly blue. Reaching out with his powers the heat begins to rapidly siphon off of the water, steam vanishing first but soon after crystals began to form at the inside briefly spraying wet half-frozen crystals of water into the air. It took a great amount of effort to control the energy in that much water but the half-frozen state didn’t last long, soon ice formed and froze the geyser solid. A plume of fire and heat shot upward off of his body redirecting the heat into the air. A deep crazy laughter echoed in the ears of anyone with exceptional hearing, “We are legion!” It turns frustrated and begins to scream as the water freezes solid.

Meanwhile Kylaria simply murmurs obscenities in rapid succession as all of this happens. As all of this happens, the were-creatures begin to transform into half-beast form holding their automatic weapons. Shamans link hands and magical barriers begin to form around each team like walls of steel only formed out of the air. The geyser begins to crack and shatter along the lines crystal where the ice had trouble forming with such a large volume of water. Just as the geyser is about to shatter, Lance keyed up his radio, “Helos, fire at will. Engage with extreme prejudice.” As the geyser exploded the bullets from the 30mm cannons began to fly, sending shards of ice flying everywhere.

Kylaria was not going to sit there like some helpless girl. Shaking herself all over her skin flew off of her body and in her place was a silver gray wolf-like critter with fiery golden eyes. Hopping from where she was she began to deflect the ice shards with her own body trying to keep them from hitting the vulnerable shamans. The rumbling ceased but the laughing only got louder the ground splitting and cracking, then stops at the barriers, unable to go any further. The tone of the laughter changed, becoming desperate and hysterical, the ground starting to grow very hot. As she lands, Kylaria yelps the pads of her paws burning a bit. The pain didn’t stop her from deflecting the last of the ice shards from hitting anyone. Finally coming to a stop next to Lance, she stopped panting.

The laughter suddenly boomed with a mocking sound, “This is not over yet!” The evil force visibly battered with magical forces against the shields, but did not penetrate them, the shamans were straining, however, to deflect it all at the same time. “We are not done with you!” the laughing voice yelled. Looking around with a snarl, Kylaria tried to find the source of the voice. Chaos ensues, the shields from the shamans remain intact but elsewhere shields made of some kind of reality-magic begin to shatter in large explosions of un-reality where the fabric of the universe seems to unravel and the reknit itself together. The sounds of unseen explosions, the house and buildings then begin to disintegrate, stress crumbling the load bearing members causing the structures to fold in on themselves and collapse entirely. The understandable reaction from Kylaria is just groaning, “Oh fuck!” drawing out every word, realizing that the land is ruined. The voice just taunts more and laughs, “Told you we were not finished yet. The last laugh is ours.” and continues to maniacal laughter.

The ground opens up further black vapor flows out thickly solidifying into an apparition. Lance himself charges forward, the choppers pulling back but staying ready to fire again, the vaporous form laughs harder now as it begins to take form, “We are legion and you will not stop us!” Kylaria charges beside Lance snapping powerful wolf-jaws at the vapor ineffectively. The vapor then begins to wrap around the pair of them at once. Lance touches the ground kneeling, the vapor tries to grip around him but he draws energy out of… Everywhere, in a palpable draw… The heat in the air, electricity from nearby power lines, and his sapphire ring begins to glow brightly, energy ripples away from his body and the ring. Unable to grip onto Lance the vapor grasps Kylaria tightly and starts to squeeze her hard.

While Lance begins to draw the energy out of everything he can, the water in the favor freezes and cracks dropping Kylaria. Standing up, ice falling off his body, clouds of fog from the sudden drop in temperature, looking at her Lance lets his mind ripple out and telekinesis wraps around her body forcing away the vapor, hugging tight to every curve and crevice like a second skin. Looking toward the black vapor apparition, “You want to play ghost. If you do, we can play. You ever seen the fiery pits of hell?” he asks, eyes flashing red, charging from blue to red erratically. Kylaria’s body shifting back to human form looking bruised and beaten up her mind having been stripped raw in the process.

Echoing through the air from the spirits that were controlling the vapor, "We do not want you! Give us the female and you can leave alive she is why we are like this!"
Looking at Kylaria’s body suspended in air, Lance shifts his hand with a grin, her body then flung through the air looking like a rag doll since she was so light for someone of her height, even though he really was moving it gently. She landed in his arms, “Oh, I don’t think I really care. You want her, you’ll have to go through not only me, but all of us. You’ve got one shot. Just one. Leave, or we make you leave.” Kylaria blinks lightly, he bends his lips to her and kissed her deeply her body making a funny noise as their lips touch. His mind reaches into her body, energy rippling through her like a burst of sunlight to every cell, every muscle, every injured part of her lights up as if it suddenly had health flowing into it. The kiss continues regenerating her body in a matter of seconds with the incredible amounts of energy Lance had drawn out of everywhere, pouring into her. She returned the kiss tentatively at first, not thinking of anything but the soothing energy as her body healed and began to warm - her Phoenix responding quickly. Blinking a bit she broke the kiss and realized she was healed, blinking a bit more she tilted her head questioningly and didn’t know what to say except, “Hi Demon Man.”

Quirking a smile Lance sets Kylaria on her feet, turning his attention to the apparition, “So, do you have an answer Legion? Shall we dance?” He was completely serious, the choppers circled, the man both in half-form and human form aimed weapons while the shamans built up magical spells of defense and offence, holding them at the ready.

The answer came quickly from the voice, “Checkmate. For now. We go, but we will be back! For you both! Ask that creature next to you why!” The spirits backed off and returned to whence they came from.

Putting the full force of his psionic mind into a booming voice which hit anything with a mind to receive it, “You come back, even for a moment. You will be destroy. We are the United State Navy, we don’t give a fuck who you are. You son-of-a-bitches can go find somewhere else, I hear Afghanistan is nice this time of year.” The spirits run away from this, weaker than they care to admit. All around them was now silence and clean air.

Chapter 5

Depth

“Whoa. What the fuck was that? What the fuck is going on? What the fuck happened here? Holy crap!” Kylaria looked about the wreck of her home, “Well, at least I can fix this. It is annoying as hell but better than what was a haunting the place. I guess I owe you an explanation of sorts. Now that I know what happened.”

Lance retracts his armor, as he turns to her again, his skin returning to normal. Sheathing his sowrd he made a hand motion, “Move out, check everything, find artifact, item, hole in the ground, crack in reality. Find it and report it.” His men moved out as orders and with a smile Lance said, “Yeah, lets go and talk while my men work.”

“Well, how the start is this story, it’s old. Like me.”

Smiling at her with interest, “At the beginning is a good place to start, hold on though…” he turned from her, still holding an incredible amount of energy, putting his wrists together, fingers pointed out and directing his palms toward the sky, energy erupted from them in a beam dispersing harmlessly out into the atmosphere.

“You realize that I am old right? Very old. I was whelped, or rather born,” she watches him expel the energy from his body and comments, “It all has to go somewhere eh?” Then she returns to what he was staying, “But you know, I am about…” she paused to think, “2400 years old or so. Give or take a few decades. I stopped counting after three hundred years.” She walked and talked and where she stepped the ground began to heal, hot green but what grew belonged there. Cactus flowed along with aloe and agave. Even the desert had life. A date tree popped up here and there, saplings. “I am originally from where you could call ancient Ireland. Connemara region. I was born a were - or back then we were called Garou. Some call us skin-walkers here in the desert. Depends on the legends you follow I guess. I was a daughter to a leader and was destined to mate with one that would give my family a good allegiance. He was a nice fellow I suppose. I barely remember him now.”

Lance commented on what her observation first, “Energy cannot be created or destroyed. Only transformed.” Pausing himself to listen to her and watching the land recover as she stepped, “I figured you were old, but I didn’t probe your mind enough to find out how old.”

“And yes, I am that old. I was there when Jesus was a child and I watched him die.” she said laughing softly. “Well, there were always factions and clan wars Lance. History has not changed much. magic was strong then and everywhere! Not science but magic. Fae and demons alike lived, well, not in peace but in balance. But vampire lived too, or existed. They too are subject to balance and the population exploded and they competed for food, namely us. Our lands were coveted by a Gangrel Prince. I was oh, 18 or 19 at the time and only thought of marrying. It was shock when they came crashing down our door and slaughtered everyone before my eyes. Mother, father, and sibling, even the baby dead.” Kylaria sighed a bit and caught her breath slightly before continuing. “It is traditional that my kind do not succumb to the bite. I tried to fall on my fathers sword but was taken by this Prince and he turned me. Bad things happen when a were turns. We become unstable.” She laughed at the memory and Lance growled under his breath as they walked about the property, his people going about their jobs while he listened. She continued, “I was chained in the dungeon for about 200 years before I stabilized or, seemed to. I was still a shifter and had some abilities to block my mind from the Prince and fool him into thinking I was his creature and pet.”

Lance couldn’t help but growl at the story of this Prince, Kylaria growled in return as if an instinctual response to the shared experience of hating Vampires. “I’ve seen a few with similar problems,” he gestures to a group of soldiers who were doing work along side a shaman with a very large hunk of glowing quarts, “He had a similar problem.”

“Abominations? Yes. That is what we are called when we survive the bite. Another 200 years passed until I got free because vampires are such a vain lot. They thought escape was beyond my ability.” She laughed at that, “Stupid creatures! I made my way back to the Connemara home where I once lived, which, of course was long since gone as well as my betrothed family. I had changed but I burned for revenge. So I traveled and learned the sword and shield. I became a knight errant and bit by bit, picked them off. It is in the history books as the Vampire War of Connemara County. All of the MacNells were wiped out according to the books but not me! I beheaded each of them over the next few centuries, burning the bodies and burying their heads in salt! Those spirits are the ones I killed Lance! They returned to get revenge.” She took another breath before moving on from that explanation, but did continue, “Over time I learned control over the monster I was. I fought along side of Attila the Hun, Alexander the Great, and Ivan the Terrible. I was in the Ranks of the Fionna, the elite army of the Irish King. I fought with Fion Mcuill. I tried to fight the good fight but I could not do it. I raged again and then became known as the Scourge of Ireland.” Grinning a bit she commented as an aside, “Also in the history books” showing him her hands and the brands of twin phoenixes on them, before continuing, “I paved Ireland with rivers of blood, until I bit the wrong male. I should have died then Lance but the blood I drank stabilized me and made me as you see me now.” As they walked all the land was healing the entire time and the ranch now looked more like an oasis in the desert, saplings growing into trees at an incredibly rapid rate. “I am a mix of evil and good, life and death. And I have a bad temper, did I mention this to you yet?”

Lance laughed, “Yes, well, you should see me on Mondays.”

She gave him a slightly quirked brow with a continued grin, “I am really bad before coffee.”

Winking at her Lance answered looking at thing seriously, “It is going to take them the better part of the day to finish the sweeps, then put protections on. So, we need to talk about the, situation.” His grin turned more into a smile and it is obvious he means the exchange.

“Going to be a bitch rebuilding this but a tleast the ridge are safely away as are the animals. Of course, I will hold up my end of the deal. I will meet all obligations needed to be met.”

“Well… I don’t mean to seem mercenary about things but, I think we went a bit above and beyond, don’t you?”

She looked around a bit and hard to agree, “The situation was far worse than I knew. Can’t deny it. This really did such the big one buddy.”

“Look, here’s the deal.” he looked at her straight.

While she probably should have been in tears and freaked out, she was just herself, “What do you need from me as recompense.”

“We need to occasionally keep people out of the way of other organizations… What I need is a no-fuss-no-muss place to stash them. They aren’t always willing but it is always to keep them safe.”

“A safe house of sorts?”

“It’s is off books, and they can sometimes be dangerous. Sort of. But in exchange, you get assistance, immigration will leave you alone, and I don’t care what laws get broken so long as you inform me on what is going on. And, don’t start making a scene, if this place gets looked at we’ll have to pull out.”

“Well, considering the shit that went down here, that sounds fair enough. And I don’t make scenes Lance. I put an end to them. Quickly.”

“Good.” Kylaria looked around at the oasis she created but as Lance continued as she looked, “Oh, and, I should apologize for the kiss. I kind of got caught in the moment. Was it good for you?”

She offered a small smile that was half challenge, “Did you?”

“Yeah, I didn’t have to kiss you to do that, but it seemed like the thing to do at the time.” He gave her a slight wink.

She laughed at that comment, “You should know that was a first kiss in, well, many, many, many centuries. The first kiss was from my betrothed. You were the second one.”

He raised both his eyebrows, “I am honored.” He does his best courtly bow, it was even accurate in a strange way to her time period, perhaps of a Germanic origin.

“Time were different then as I think you know and rules were different. So… Lets just say that there are some things I have not gotten around to doing at the time. And never got aroudn to doing now because it could be complicated.”

“Trying to imagine you in a dress though, that would be a sight.”

“Can you now? I detested dresses but wore them I did, until I did not have to anymore.”

“Well, I did wear a dress for a full week once, covert operations can be a real pain in the ass ya know?”

Kylaria almost fell over her feet on that one. “Don’t you just hate shaving the legs?”

“That wasn’t as bad as the corset.” Lance felt his face, “I already shave this, so it wasn’t that much worse but that corset hurt.”

“Ah yes, the torture device.” She whispered conspiratorially, “I kept on burning mine as a girl.” She looked around again at the oasis she had created, “This is going to be a pain in the ass to clear when i rebuilt. Happens every time I touch land that is damaged. It returns to a natural state. That is, unless I control myself and right now control is not happening.”

He turned to her, takes her hands in his and asks, “Now, may we do this a little more proper?” leaning in just a hair, but not looking like a moron teenager on a first date.
She grips his hands in turn, tilting her head, “What do you have in mind my good male?”

“Just a kiss.”

She was trying not to smile and be her serious bad self but failing miserably, “I should protest and call you a scalawag, and defiler of innocent maids. A kiss would not be a bad thing considering all things. A good way to end a successful mission?”

“Often.”

“Perhaps practicing would be good as I hope for more successful missions.”

Leaning closer, gently he pulled her close to him and lips pressed to hers, not an open mouthed kiss but a brushing of lips and a slight slide of tongue along her lips but not forceful. She inhales a bit at first letting him do as he wants as she figures out where he is going with this. Her lips parted and were perhaps be a bit warmer than usual as her temperature was warmer than a normal person. She kept hold of his hands because she liked the feeling, her kiss was a good mimic to his, tongue included as it seemed the right thing to do. The kiss broke as he pulled back as he didn’t want to be presumptuous besides it was bad to be snogging someone in front of your men. Though a soft kiss was always nice. Realizing where they were she did not blush at all, really she was too old for that girlish nonsense. She pulled back as well, her golden gaze soft but alert as she was already figuring things out. Glancing around at the men for a moment, “I do wonder what happens if a mission is not successful.”

“There is a lot that happens when a mission is incomplete, to take one’s mind off of it.” Giving her a wink and then leaving it at that.

She blinked at him as his breath tickled a bit. She would lean this game if possible, mostly by following his lead and mimicking but she understood what was between males and females well enough, “Well the spirits did say they would be back, so perhaps this mission needs to be completed?” She accented her point with a nose rubbed against his cheek much like a wolf might do a pack-mate. Pulling her head back just enough and gives him a so there sort of look. She still had her hands in his and tells him in a conversational tone, “When I marched with Alexander the Great, there was much drinking and carousing when a battle was won… Or lost. It was rather hard, at times, to figure out what was going on.”

“You’re not sure what I’m talking about, are you?” he asked not condescendingly, but quietly almost like a friend.

“Perhaps not Lance, perhaps yes. We play a game here and I am not quite sure of all the rules yet.” Lance glanced at her and opens his mind to her, to show… Flashes of after a mission and the sexual escapades that go on – nothing explicit visually but extremely emotionally explicit, the trickle of the thoughts from his mind travelling to hers. She blinked several times as she absorbs the images and now understands what he means, “So that is why I was told to go elsewhere for a while?” She laughed a bit, “Definitely different from barn animals, don’t you think?”

Giving her a conspiratorial smile, Lance just responds with, “Yes, it is. But that is part of the fun of it, isn’t it?”

“I suppose so. What I do like about this day and age is things are not so in the dark… So fun is what you call it now a days? We used to call it tupping.”

Lance gives a soft chuckle, “Fun is… Multi-use, sometimes people call it romping, in southern regions it is rolling in the hey, my personal favorite of all the things I’ve heard it called shtupping.”

Kylaria laughs loudly at that, “The last one is funny. How interesting it has so many names.”

“Oh, that’s not even the least of the names…” He puts on a very bad English accent, “Shagging, it is called in the Jolly old’ England,” and then continues normally, but finding it hard not to laugh, “More crass teenagers call it porking or boinking, which I always figured means they’ve never done it.” A low truck with her jeep on it pulls up to the property where people start unloading it carefully, apparently they washed it too as it is clean of all the dust and dirt.

She wipes her eyes from laughter, “Oh, thanks for the tow by the way. Ah, nice to see the beast clean and pretty for once. So… Should we order a pizza or something?”

“No need… My assistant, a Lieutenant Neon, is really good at anticipating needs. I’ll bet…” He is interrupted by a taco truck pulling up and setting up shop, “There, he’s had a fascination for food trucks, something he saw on TV lately.”

“Oh, Tex Mex? That rocks. Least feasting after the war has not changed. But am I sent away to town this time?”

“So, which of the generals sent you off to down?”

“You would know him as Ivan the terrible in history. He was not so terrible really. Kind of thought of me as a daughter and did not want me seeing things.” She seemed to think that was entirely too amusing while Lance just shook his head while he listened to her, “At that point I had already seen what I needed to see when barn animals mated. I did not need to see more so I would absent myself when the men wished to do as they wanted. To me, it was not such a big deal. Never claimed to understand it all but I know what it’s about. Some of it is relief of stress, other times it is the bear young. Sometimes when a village was raided it was used to demoralize males and females and make them realize they are conquered.” After a short pause she added, “All of it has its place on the battle field I suppose.”

“To be honest, it is a bit different now. Well, most times. Some groups still do it to demoralize, but it causes havoc in the ranks to let them go wild.”

“Well you have things now like the United Nations and the Geneva Convention with this Rules of War crap. Complicated, no? I have been on the losing side of battles but I did have an advantage that I was not human and was not able to use my own abilities to be left in peace. Before it was known that I was a were, I’d carry a big stick with me and bash any male over the head that wished to do what I did not wish to do.” She sniffed the air and smiled smelling, “Tacos! So, shall we get something to eat while we contemplate the history of war?”

Lance just laughed openly at that, “You’d win. I haven’t been alive as long. Now, if you want we can compare supernatural escapades, since that is mostly what I deal with.”

“Well I am indeed a living book, am I not? I also speak several languages but several of them are dead now.”

“That is one way to term it.” He gave a light chuckle, “You know, you and me should go back to my office some time and talk tactics of war. I get into some hairy ground situations that you might have a good take on.”

“I’d be happy to talk strategy with you if you want. We have much we can learn from one another I think. And I enjoy learning things.” She looked around at the now oasis that seems to be growing and took a few deep breaths and it stops growing, “Need to stop that sometimes. Looks better than before at least. Hope you will be around for a while Lance. Kind of like someone familiar with me for when it comes time to burn. You’d think it would be no big deal but the first few minutes are very… Odd.”

“I’ve burned a few times myself. You should have seen the Captain’s face when I was briefly turned.”

“Yeah? Guess old stick-up-his-ass near had a heart attack.”

“No, don’t ever tell him I said so, but I was lucky he found me. It took a seriously amazing display of cunning to turn me back.”

“I could not be turned back until I bit the wrong male. Good to be alive again. I missed food. Blood got boring fast, but now I have to burn each year and return new.”

“I know, I like meat rare, but it was horrible.” With a short paused, he continued on how he was turned back, “Well… It took 27 shamans, the blood of five vampires, and this,” he gestures to his ring, the sapphire in it was lowing brightly earlier, “It’s a Solar Crystal.”

She sniffed at the ring as if to obtain an origin of sorts, “Hm. An interesting tale and a lovely gem indeed. It has some power then?”

“It has more than some, was kind of hoping you might know where it came from. We’ve found only a tiny handful like it. But we have no idea the origin.”

“Hm.” She thinks for a few moments, “Interesting scent to it. It is not a stone I think,” she took his hand and inhaled deeply, “There is life to it. No, not a stone but a living thing it is,” she sniffs again, “This is connected to you, I think. Perhaps a symbiotic relationship?”

“It…” he pauses on the urge to really get into it, it wasn’t something you talked about to people really, the power was incredible and if someone got one of these stones when they shouldn’t, it could be disastrous. In the end he decided it was safe to. Though if asked he wouldn’t have been able to explain why he felt that way. “It can do some incredible things, but is an object that meets power with power. To use it one has to have power.”

She sniffs at it again, “No, it is not an ordinary stone at all. Yes, it is magical and rare. Looks much like a sapphire of this world but it has magics. You belong to it and it belongs to you, strong magics here.”

He nods at what she says, “It is bound to me, it happens instantly when someone picks up one. Makes them hard to study.”

“Ah. I think I understand it. It is like an extra go gear for someone who has magics. A catalyst of sorts. It can bring out power that is deeply hidden I think. A tiny bit of power becomes a tiny bit more power, yes. Cannot say where it comes from but it is not of this world or galaxy.” She didn’t make an effort to touch it, just sniffed at gazed at it. “I suspect that the stone is truly a living part of the universe that broke off randomly and fell. I should show you something when you feel up to it.”

Getting another mischievous look Lance turns to her and says, “That goes along with what it does. Want to see?”

Nodding to him she just says, “Sure.”

Lance pulls his hand gently back and checks to makes sure none of the men are actively watching him. He points his palm at the ground, the ring begins to glow while energy masses around it in a palpable way. Reality begins to distort around the ground, bending it inward as if the end of a large ball was pressing into the ground slowly. Lance increases the power and the ground starts to change and shift, warping in shape and texture. The course but packed sand begins to smooth out and meld together like glass. The process creates no heat. While Kylaria blinks trying to figure out what was happening, he just grins and asks, “You want to see more?” It is always exciting to actually use the crystal, he didn’t actually do it very often but somehow he liked showing off a bit to this girl. She was nice and nice was not something he was – nor was it something he saw often.

“Hm. Interesting. Is it something that destroys?”

“Oh yes.” She nodded genuinely interested while he looked around and then turned back to her, “Point at something you don’t want here.” He finally said while keeping the energy up, swirling and smoothing around the patch of ground in a steady flow of power coming from him and the ring, both acting as one.

“Well, Langly isn’t here so can’t do that can we?” He just looked at her strangely for a moment, not getting the joke, she just grinned a bit more and responded, “It’s a joke man.”

“I know. But seriously, point at something.”

“Oh, this boulder, the one about 100 feet away. Gonna be a pain in the ass to move…”

With a slight nod Lance turns to the boulder looking at it and concentrating, the energy begins to shift away from the ground, coalescing at the crystal itself. Kylaria observers the energy and his actions clinically, curious as to how this worked. Looking to Lance and the stone as if seeing one effecting the other. “It’s going to produce a lot of energy, you want to feel something amazing?”
“Well, this day is already amazing, so sure, go for it.”

Lance extended his hand to hers, waiting for her to grasp it. Tilting her head, Kylaria reached for his hand, he gently took it, and then with his other hand he closed his fist and pointed it and the ring at the boulder. The energy that had coalesced at the ring began to ripple out from the crystal and wrapped around the boulder. She could feel the power, but that was it. As it moved through the boulder, through it, inside it, and back around again she could feel the current passing through her. His magic, she allowed it to surround her rather than absorbing it, liking the feel of it, the ebb and flow as he used the magic. She stayed still to experience the full effect, eyes slowly falling shut as she tips her head back, breathing quietly. This felt good to her so far.

Changing the pattern of the energy Lance collapsed the bubble around the boulder and ripped it out of reality. The matter converted directly into energy, an incredible, unimaginable amount of power courses into them both, the energy wasn’t painful but was more like having your entire body dipped in and bathed in mental power tingling every bit intensely erotic, euphoric, like having sex, climaxing, and then cuddling all at the same time. Kylaria lets out a soft moan of sorts, feeling the power course through her veins. It was more than she could take in one short so she returned power back to him, trying to start a cycle of sorts so the power could spin back and forth between them both stuttering, she tried to ask, “What?” The energy and power built in a feed-back loop between the both of them.

“Just let it build,” Lance said, one word at a time, enjoying the feel o power between them without considering at all if she would want this level of building between them. After-all, he wasn’t really into considering how others felt. Kylaria was unsure as to why anyone would do this to her, she felt a mix of invaded and not at the same time. Shivering again as the power coursed back and forth over and over. Her own fires were building too, touching the power he kept sending her. Sweat started to bead over her body, rivulets dripping down her upturned face. Her grip on his hand spasmed tightly as she felt her knees buckle. Suddenly with little warning a bright beam of light shot out from her eyes, lips, and nose. A psionic scream that is half human and half beast filled Lance’s mind.
Intrigued by the psionic energy released in the scream, it felt like fire, images of a phoenix filled Lance’s mind burning with psionic flame. Trying to draw the flame into himself the phoenix fire began to filter into the looping circuit of energy coursing between them. The flavor changed drastically, Lance found that he liked it quite a bit. The cold fire from his own mental abilities with the sparkling energy of the boulder, mixing and swirling with the hot burning flame of her phoenix. Kylaria was to the point of burning up, while her body did not physically ignite she felt as if she might at any moment. Closing her eyes, dripping tears of fire that did not burn her flesh.

Breaking the loop Lance diverted the power, the release was like a physical one leaving aftershocks in its wake and a warm glow about the skin, just not as messy as a traditional release of the body. The power released creating something akin to a sonic boom ripping through the air not just as sound but with a physical pulse of energy going outward like a shock-wave. Suddenly the ground ripped open and an assortment of trees fully grown burst through, assorted fruits were already ripe on the branches. Around the base, tropical flowers surrounded the huge tricks as well as vines curling up their lengths. Kylaria’s body kept shaking and fire tears leaked from her closed eyes. The fire didn’t seem to harm Lance either as he held her, steadying her body. Once she stopped shaking and shivering, she opened her eyes glowing bright gold. Her eyes opened with a questioning expression on her face while Lance continued to watch her a little unsure – which was uncustomary for him to feel. She hadn’t smacked him upside the head, he took that as a good sign.

“I…” Her voice trailed off.

“Incredible, isn’t it?” he asked, a grin on his face with some of his normal arrogance returning.

She was at a loss for words and kept staring at Lance. “What…” Kylaria gathered her words a bit better, “What was it? That energy. What was that?”

Lance licked his lips a bit, as if he could still taste the flavor of it all, “Yours and mine, enhanced by what comes from the boulder when it was destroyed. It is all energy, and has to go somewhere.”

“I almost transformed. Fire. I thought I was going to burn up, but different. But yes, I see what you mean about having to disperse such power. Wow! We did that?” She reached out to touch his hair in a loving way, but hesitated. She felt strange and could not quite get what happened.

“We did.” Was Lance’s only answer, smile growing on his face, feeling more comfortable with her, realizing that he was feeling like the motion of her hand to touch his hair would be perfectly natural. It struck him, right then that his reaction was abnormal. Somewhere in the back of his mind he wondered about this but the usual suspicion and cynicism didn’t reach the surface of his thoughts the way it usually would have.

“I feel like I know you and not sure why.”

“I really. To tell you the truth, am not sure what would have happened if you had transformed, so I broke the link. Mixing my energy in with the boulder, I don’t know what would have happened at all.”
“It’s confusing to me.”

Lance smiled and brought her hand to his lips, kissing the back of it, “That’s normal. Lets go in the house, people would notice the trees. Then we can talk about it more?” It was a question, really he couldn’t remember someone being this OK about it previously.

Kylaria nodded agreement and tried a smile smile herself, “I know you somehow, but different. Most know I am an oddball and would expect some odd things. Look at all this growth! Wow!” She looked around in wonder as she spoke, “I feel somehow closer to you. I know you. You know me. I make no sense!” She walked back with him to the house amazed it was still standing.

Nodding and holding her hand while they walked to the house Lance let her open the door heading inside behind her. Kylaria was surprised the house was still in order. The furnishings were Shaker style in the fact that seating tables and such were clean and simple lines. The floors were wooden and bare of rugs or anything too frilly. The living space had a large living room and a fire place, the desert go cold at night. The kitchen was a simple affair of black and white stone and cabinets with stainless appliance. The artwork on the walls was desert themed. Not a cold place but not all fru-fru either. “Welcome to my home.”